The Deeds of the abbots of St Albans records the history of one of the most important abbeys in England, closely linked to the royal family and home to a school of distinguished chroniclers, including Matthew Paris and Thomas Walsingham. It offers many insights into the life of the monastery, its buildings and its role as a maker of books, and covers the period from the Conquest to the mid-fifteenth century.
The Deeds of the abbots of St Albans is the longest continuous chronicle of a medieval monastery in England, following its fortunes from its first foundation in the wake of the first Viking raids to its status as a proud and prosperous pillar of the church establishment more than six centuries later. More than merely a common, conventual annal, the Deeds drew contributions from the most accomplished chroniclers of the St Albans school including Matthew Paris, Thomas Walsingham and perhaps William Rishanger. It is a history of one of the most important abbeys, under royal patronage and always at the apex of the church hierarchy; it also offers a glimpse of life inside the monastic community from the Conquest to within a century of the Dissolution. There are detailed descriptions of the building, and rebuilding, of the abbey church, and recounts the abbey's commitment to the making of books, from thefirst flowering of the scriptorium in the twelfth century - when a famous psalter was made for the anchorite Christina of Markyate - to its Indian summer in the years before 1400 under Thomas Walsingham himself. There are rare snapshots of the daily routine of the monks, their liturgical observances, their interactions with their staff, tenants, townspeople and guests. And it captures the colour and character of the celebrated figures seen at the abbey, from King John to Edward the Black Prince.